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Pressure on Churches to join abuse compensation scheme

Posted on 29 October 2017
Pressure on Churches to join abuse compensation scheme
The states and churches were under intense moral and political pressure last night to opt in to the Turnbull government's $4 billion child-sex abuse redress framework to enable 59,000 victims to receive compensation.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter yesterday called for nationwide pressure on the states and responsible organisations to opt in to the federal scheme amid concerns some would baulk at the cost.

Victoria yesterday offered inprinciple agreement, while NSW promised to continue negotiating with Canberra in a bid to provide a meaningful payment system.

As foreshadowed in The Australian, Mr Porter yesterday introduced a bill to federal parliament to enable the setting up of the commonwealth's redress system amid expectations Victoria, NSW, the Northern Territory and the ACT would opt in.

Commonwealth entities were the responsible agencies in the cases of an estimated 1000 victims of abuse; the remainder are covered by the states and the relevant institution.

There will be intense negotiations with governments and institutions after Mr Porter backed a scheme in which the test will be a "reasonable likelihood" that abuse occurred. "We are trying to create a low-hurdle, simple, clear, easyto-navigate process for the survivors of the abuse," Mr Porter told the ABC. "What we're very much hoping and encouraging is that the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, Victoria, NSW, opt in the not too distant future to also allow survivors whose suffering occurred in those jurisdictions and in those institutions to make their applications inside this scheme.

"The reason that we've crafted the scheme in a consultative way is we want to make sure that its fundamental terms and conditions and processes are acceptable to all of the states and territories." The Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said it was crucial that the states legislated to enable a truly national redress system. He said failure to secure a uniform response would leave victims at risk of not receiving compensation. Warning the states must opt in, he said of Mr Porter's legislation: "It's only a commonwealth scheme."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was "very keen" to get the state into a national scheme. "But it's got to be a proper national scheme, there's got to be involvement from the non-government sector, that's probably the biggest outstanding issue - to what extent are the churches and others signed up to this," he said.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said he would engage with other jurisdictions "with a view to quickly developing a meaningful and practical national scheme for redress".


From: The Australian,  by John Ferguson

27 Oct 2017
Tags: wellbeing

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